Governor Cuomo’s Hope to Confirm New Court of Appeals Nominee by End of June Legislative Session is Unrealistic


This is an interesting development in the process to appoint a new Associate Judge to the Court of Appeals to fill Judge Shelia Abdus-Salaam’s seat.  Although the Governor may want a new Judge confirmed by the end of the June legislative session, it seems highly unlikely that that will be possible.

Applications to fill the seat aren’t due to the Commission on Judicial Nomination until May 19th.  Without the Governor’s new preferred deadline, the Commission would have until August 15th to research and interview the applicants, which is a comprehensive and painstaking process, and select up to 7 potential nominees to send to the Governor for consideration.  More information about the nomination process can be found here.

Under the Judiciary Law, however, after the Commission sends the Governor the list of potential nominees, the Governor is required to wait at least 15 days before picking the nominee.  The Senate then has 30 days to confirm the Governor’s pick.

All this math doesn’t seem to add up for an end of June appointment to the Court.  The only way it could work is if the Commission picked a list by the end of May, which is only ten days after it receives all of the applications.  The Governor would then have to pick a nominee on the 15th day, and the Senate would have to schedule a hearing and confirm the nominee in the last 15 days of June, all while trying to push through as much end of session legislation as it can.  To say that is unlikely seems generous. 

What is far more likely is that the Commission vets the applicants over the summer, the Governor picks the nominee by the end of August, and the Senate confirms the new Associate Judge when it comes back to session in the fall.  In that more likely scenario, the Court operates with 6 Judges until the middle of the September Session or the October Session, at the latest.  That timeline makes far more sense to me, as an appointment to the Court of Appeals isn’t something that should be rushed through, especially with the Court out of session from June until the August Election Session.  

I certainly applaud the Governor’s desire to have a full Court to do the People’s work, but pushing for an end of June confirmation is just unrealistic.

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